The Tuxedo

Half Vin Diesel's weight, but twice the punching power. Go Jackie!

Released in 2002, certified UK-12A. Reviewed on 19 Jan 2003 by Craig Eastman
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Everyone wants to be a secret agent it seems, but while many will still be lamenting the mammoth missed opportunity that was the dire xXx, those of us who never doubted that Bond was still the man in the first place could do a lot worse than go see Mr. Chan put his irrepressible oriental spin on the theme.

The plot of The Tuxedo, such as it is, is largely throwaway. Jimmy Tong is a crazy cab driver in an unnamed American city for whom speedy deliveries are a matter of pride. As such, he is approached by a secret government agency to be a driver for their top spy, who for some inexplicable reason, is English. Clark Devlin is the name, and wooing the ladies whilst averting national crisis is the game, at least until he gets pretty badly blown up and finds himself semi-comatose in the hospital. "Wear it", he tells Jimmy, referring to his rather natty $2billion tuxedo which Tong has been eyeing up for some time. Don't you just know it, it's a special tuxedo which when worn gives the person sporting it amazing spy-like abilities (kung-fu, mostly), and so off sets Jimmy to complete his boss' mission.

It's the worst excuse for motivation Chan's been given in a western production to date, and being a fan of his movies I approached The Tuxedo with a sense of trepidation. It hasn't exactly had brilliant word of mouth, with many slating it for it's emphasis on laughs rather than action, but I have to say I found this criticism slightly unfair. Yes, it features a lot less of Chan's trademark chop-socky than usual, and nobody could deny the general weakness of the script, but Jackie has a unique charm and for the most part succeeds admirably in pulling off the humour.

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Hewitt has, as one would expect of this kind of flick, very little to do other than look stunning whilst providing some straight-laced comments as Chan kicks everybody's head in. Jason Isaacs pretty much steals the few scenes he's in, and age aside it's easy to imagine him having played Bond were Brosnan to have been overlooked. It's Ritchie Coster who gets the best lines though as evil bottled water magnate (yes you read that right) Diedrich Banning. His vicious asides are almost worth the price of entry alone and make the otherwise lacklustre middle section nip along quite nicely.

The Tuxedo doesn't warrant much analysis, and I turned my brain off at the door so I'm not going to give it any, suffice to say I enjoyed it immensely. It's true that director Kevin Donovan has resorted to the odd bit of computer trickery where Chan is no longer up to the task, but let's remember he's beginning to get on a bit, and I'd still put a few quid on him kicking Vin Diesel's arse any old day of the week.

It's not going to set the world (or the box office) alight, but The Tuxedo has more than enough highlights to warrant spending a fiver for entry. The kung-fu meter might not reach maximum, but there's still plenty of prop-related trickery to keep Chan's fans happy, and there are certainly a fair few laughs to be had. I can't really think of much more to say, but that's not always such a bad thing.

Grand Master Disko exits his dojo just long enough to award his pupil three out of five possible Disko Units. Now go paint the fence...

Kevin Donovan
Cast list:
Jackie Chan (Jimmy Tong)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (Delilah 'Del' Blaine)
Jason Isaacs (Clark Devlin)